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May 13, 2010

Charters & Their Shallow Community Roots

Dear Diane, That was an amazing and surprising find re. Milwaukee charters. I thought that at the very least they'd get the advantage of being in a more diverse (integrated) setting with more middle-class kids and that being chosen (even by lottery) would produce a kind of halo effect. Why it didn'...

April 22, 2010

Imagine Standards for the Common Good

Dear Diane, Last Saturday's event—"Remapping Progressive Education"—was great. Someone remarked as I went into the auditorium to start the first session that they felt they had died and gone to heaven—seeing all their old colleagues from so many years ago. But there were far more ...

March 25, 2010

What Are the Trade-Offs?

Dear Diane, Lucid and to the point, Diane. I'll sign on. Once again, we may confront a law that penalizes schools that don't eliminate differential test score outcomes that correlate with race, class, disability, or language spoken at home. (And that pays teachers based on scores, and favors charte...

March 11, 2010

A Shot in the Arm for Teachers

Dear Diane, I'm back from a trip to Indiana and Ohio. You've brought the teachers and administrators I met great joy and hope. They asked me to say thanks. The level of fear out there in the field is enormous. Of course, many of your critics will be delighted to hear this. They see security as the ...

February 25, 2010

Divided We Fail

Dear Diane, How did we let "them" pit so many good people against each other? Maybe it's just New York City? Parents, teachers, and kids are fighting each other over who is invading whose turf, who belongs, who is an insider vs. an outsider. A busload of mothers goes to Albany on behalf of charters...

February 23, 2010

The Problem With Charters

Dear Deborah, Last week, I warned that the explosive growth of charter schools would lead to financial and political scandals, as greedy entrepreneurs and unprincipled speculators discover the riches ripe for the picking. A reader challenged me, and I offer as the latest (but not the only) evidence...

February 04, 2010

Why Isn't the 'Mother of Small Schools' Feeling Smug?

Dear Diane, Funny you should ask, Diane. Yes, I am still a sort-of supporter of small schools—within the right context. I came across a big, heavy award from 2004 called The Small Schools Award: "In honor of your support, in a bold way and over the long haul of small schools that educate o...

February 02, 2010

Closing Schools Solves Nothing

Dear Deborah, Last week, the New York City Department of Education pushed through a decision to close 19 high schools. With the encouragement of the "Race to the Top," we will surely see similar closings across the nation, hundreds or perhaps thousands of them. Entrepreneurs cheer when public scho...

January 21, 2010

What Kind of Achievement Should Count Most?

Dear Diane, Deciding how to measure achievement depends on first defining it. The equating of "performance" and "achievement" with whatever the ELA and math tests tell us puts us in rather an awkward position—and I include in that my colleagues and friends in the AFT and NEA. Randi Weingarte...

January 19, 2010

How the Media Garbled Randi's Message

Dear Deborah, I am sure you were as surprised as I was to read the headlines in the newspapers saying that Randi Weingarten proposed that teachers should be evaluated by their students' test scores. This is a contentious issue. In New York, at Randi's urging, the state legislature passed a law prev...

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